“Time Up”: The Unknown Expectations of War

The Delaware 198th Coast Artillery Regiment is a National Guard unit that was called into service for just one year in September 1940. The U.S. Military activated them because war had broken out in Europe, France had fallen and England stood alone facing Hitler’s might. The Delaware enlistees trained for an unknown future mission. None realized at the time that they would be serving for a much longer duration and serve a lot farther away from home. Their families, like most Americans, were extremely divided as to whether the United States should join the war, or not. Few, if any, knew that Bora Bora existed, much less that it was in their future. Likewise, most Bora Borans themselves were probably unaware of the state of Delaware, much less that American G.I. 's were about to invade their Island.

Time Up!  Enlistees in new, crisp uniforms mark the calendar for their return home. Little did they know they had much longer than one year of service ahead. Credit: 8x10 glossy, black and white photograph, September, 1940; photographer unknown. Delaware Military Museum Archives.

The precise geometry of the soldiers who stand for inspection shows how the G.I.s’ transformed from individuals to a unit after mobilization. Credit: 8x10 glossy black and white photograph, 1940s; photographer unknown. Delaware Military Museum Archives.

“Company A Del State Guard,” 1940’s. Men who volunteered part-time in the State Guard included those who were too young or too old to enlist, or those who were awaiting their draft notice. Initially, their role was to protect Delaware in case of German invasion, but mainly they served as a civil defense force for possible emergencies during the war. Boys as young as fourteen and men as old as the mid-fifties signed up. Credit: “Company A Del State Guard,” 1940s. Photographer unknown. Delaware Military Museum Archives.